FIVE years after it launched a test fleet of electric cars, smart is about to put its first zero emission vehicles on sale in the UK.
Until now electrically driven smart fortwo models have only been available on lease, and then in limited numbers. But from early next year you will finally be able to go into your local showroom and buy one.
And the German manufacturer is confident that sales will soar.
It was back in 2007 that the first generation electric smarts hit London as the company used the initial test fleet to gather information on how they performed and what drivers liked and disliked about them.
In 2009 the second generation was launched in 18 markets, but again as a test fleet.
Now after assimilating all the customer feedback from both generations the company has confidently revealed the third generation and announced a 2013 on-sale date for the UK.
Bosses at smart have listened to their customers’ feedback and believe they now have the product just right, and are confident it will appeal both to private and fleet buyers.
The new car, which is available as either a coupe or cabriolet, has a top speed of 78mph, will accelerate from 0-62mph in 11.5 seconds – more than twice as quick as previous versions – and has a range of around 90 miles. It operates in complete silence and is totally green.
A full charge takes between six and seven hours although you can pay extra for your smart fortwo to have a fast charge system on board which will allow you to be back to a full battery in just 60 minutes. By charging overnight, however, your fuel will cost you around 70 per cent less than if you were running a petrol-powered smart.
For some people the thing that puts them off electric cars is the worry about the life of the battery, but smart has addressed this by offering the car with a battery rental scheme.
It means that you can either buy the smart for two electric drive complete with battery or you can pay for the car and then pay around £52 per month to rent the battery for up to ten years, knowing that if anything goes wrong with it you will get a replacement with no questions asked.
No prices have been set for the car in the UK yet but they are expected to be similar to those in Germany where it is about to go on sale with the coupe at 15,890 euros (around £12,868) before tax and the cabrio at 18,486 euros (approx £14,963) before tax, plus the battery rental charge.
In Germany customers buying the car and battery outright will pay 19,900 euros (approx £16,111) for the coupe and 22,496 euros (around £18,213) for the cabrio before tax.